HOUSTON — There are plenty of grant programs designed to help people who have taken a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. When one woman saw an offer that looked too good to be true, she turned to the VERIFY team.
The website claims to be the American Relief Fund “offering $5,000 grants for every American affected by COVID-19.”
It includes a short video and names big-brand corporations, such as McDonald’s and Subway, as funding partners.
Our sources for this are Bashir Katbi, Director of the American Relief Fund and Steven Worley, Senior Director of Communications for the International Franchise Association. The IFA advocates for and protects more than 700,000 businesses across the United States.
First, a little background. The American Relief Fund is a nonprofit that helps Syrian refugees and orphans overseas. Kabti told the VERIFY team the group has not expanded its mission to help people recover from COVID-19 and they did not create the relief grant website that is in question.
“No, we didn't do that, and we have not gotten any grants from donors or any of the names that you mentioned,” Kabti said.
There is a reason for that. The IFA said its members, Subway and McDonald’s, are not contributors.
“We have never heard of that,” Worley said.
Worley said the IFA is now taking steps to help the businesses misrepresented in the ad.
“It wouldn't surprise me to see things like cease and desist letters in order to try to take whatever legal action is available to remove their names from this website,” Worley said.
So, we can VERIFY the American Relief Fund is not offering a grant to help people affected by COVID-19.
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